Dear Newman Community;
When I first arrived at college as an eighteen-year-old freshman, I was aware of having my future spread out before me. What did I want to do with the rest of my life? What kind of career did I want to choose? The options seemed endless, and I considered my talents and the things I enjoyed doing as I narrowed down my field of study. I wanted to do something that would make me happy and be fulfilling, but it didn’t really occur to me to ask myself what God’s plan was. I knew vaguely that God had created me for a special purpose, but religion wasn’t a big part of my life. I went to church on Sundays because it was expected of me but that was about it.
As my parents helped me move into my dorm room, they pointed out that the Newman Center was only a block away. I didn’t pay much attention; I was more interested in the freshman welcoming activities and making new friends. I did go to church on Sunday, though. Since the Newman Center was so close by and easy to get to, it was hard to think of an excuse not to go. Little did I know how my life was about to change!
At the Newman Center, the Masses were simple but reverent. Being there awakened a hunger somewhere deep in my heart. I found there a group of young people—people my age! —Who were knowledgeable about their faith and excited about being Catholic. This was something I had never experienced before and I was attracted. I started hanging around the Newman Center more and more often: attending daily Mass, going to Bible studies, participating in service projects, and social gatherings. Through prayer, I developed a relationship with God. Being Catholic was now a part of my identity; I had experienced personally the love of God for me and I was on fire with zeal!
The question of my future remained before me and I was still trying to figure out what kind of a job I wanted. However, I was learning from the example of my friends at the Newman Center to think of the future less in terms of a career goal and more in terms of a vocation. What did God want me to do with my life? From the beginning of time, he had in mind for me a specific purpose and I knew that I would find fulfillment and happiness when I found out what that purpose was. Some of my friends were discerning the call to priesthood or the religious life; most were feeling called to the sacrament of marriage. But how was I supposed to find out where God was calling me? How are you supposed to find out where God is calling you?
The short answer to that question is: prayer! As it says in the Gospel of St. John, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (Jn 15:16). A vocation is the concrete life God has chosen for you, and for which he has specifically created you. You can find out what that call is by developing a personal relationship with God and by learning to listen to him as he speaks quietly to your heart. Chances are that the answer to the question of your vocation is not going to appear before you on a flashing neon sign, but those who are willing to search for it will find a quiet certainty in the depths of their being. Saying “yes” to God’s call brings about a peace and fulfillment that simply cannot be found elsewhere.
My own personal journey led me to the Congregation of the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, where I have now professed my perpetual vows. As a cloistered nun, I and my fellow Sisters are separated from the rest of the world by our convent walls and the grille in our parlor. However, our physical separation doesn’t mean that we are removed from the rest of humanity. On the contrary, the grille is simply a sign that we are consecrated to God alone and allows us to embrace suffering mankind with the love of Christ. We place the needs of the entire world before the throne of God whom we serve by our apostolate of perpetual adoration. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week there is a Sister kneeling in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, lifting up all these intentions– praying for you! We do not often see the results of our lives of intercession, at least not in the same way that a teaching Sister can watch her students grow in knowledge or a nursing Sister can care for her patients. What we do receive are countless letters from people informing us how comforted they are by the knowledge that we are here, sharing in their joys and sorrows.
The life of a cloistered nun is obviously dedicated to prayer. But, prayer is important for everyone: mothers, fathers, children, workers, and students. Most especially busy college students! God calls everyone into a living relationship with himself; that relationship grows and is nurtured through prayer. Do you want to do something important with your life, make the world a better place? Jesus has said: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
In the love of Jesus Christ,
A Holy Spirit Adoration Sister